Guest Blogger

Gay is not the new black

Filed By Guest Blogger | July 20, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: African-American, black and gay, civil rights struggles, gay community, gay is the new black, LZ Gunderson

Editors' Note: LZ Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, and has contributed to ESPN's Sports Center, Outside the Lines and First Take. Thumbnail_LZ1.jpgHe is the 2009 Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) award winner for online journalism and the 2008 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) winner for column writing. This piece originally ran on CNN.com but they shut off comments on the post; we agreed to run it as well to allow for a full discussion of the topic.

Far from flowing rainbow flags, the sound of Lady Gaga and, quite honestly, white people, stands a nightclub just outside of Wicker Park in Chicago, Illinois, by the name of The Prop House.

The line to get in usually stretches down the block, and unlike many of the clubs in Boystown and Andersonville, this one plays hip-hop and caters to men who may or may not openly identify as gay, but without question are black and proud.

And a good number of them are tired of hearing how the gay community is disappointed in President Obama, because they are not.

In recent weeks, one would have thought the nation's first black president was also the nation's biggest homophobe. Everyone from Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black and radio personality Rachel Maddow to Joe Solmonese, the president of Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay advocacy group, seem to be blasting Obama for everything from "don't ask don't tell" to Adam Lambert not winning American Idol.

In their minds, Obama is not moving fast enough on behalf of the GLBT community. The outcry is not completely without merit -- the Justice Department's unnerving brief on the Defense of Marriage Act immediately comes to mind. I was upset by some of the statements, but not surprised. (After the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, President Ronald Reagan's initial handling of AIDS and, more recently, Katrina, there is little that surprises me when it comes to the government and the treatment of its people.)

Still, rarely has criticism regarding Obama and the GLBT community come from the kind of person you would find standing in line at a spot like The Prop House, and there's a reason for that.

Despite the catchiness of the slogan, gay is not the new black.

Black is still black.

And if any group should know this, it's the gay community.

Bars such as The Prop House, or Bulldogs in Atlanta, Georgia, exist because a large number of gay blacks -- particularly those who date other blacks, and live in the black community -- do not feel a part of the larger gay movement. There are Gay Pride celebrations, and then there are Black Gay Prides.

There's a popular bar in the heart of the nation's capital that might as well rename itself Antebellum, because all of the white patrons tend to stay upstairs and the black patrons are on the first floor. Last year at the annual Human Rights Campaign national fundraiser in Washington, D.C. -- an event that lasted more than three hours -- the only black person to make it on stage was the entertainment.

When Proposition 8 passed in California, white gays were quick to blame the black community despite blacks making up less than 10 percent of total voters and whites being close to 60 percent. At protest rallies that followed, some gay blacks reported they were even hit with racial epithets by angry white participants. Not to split hairs, but for most blacks, the n-word trumps the f-word.

So while the white mouthpiece of the gay community shakes an angry finger at intolerance and bigotry in their blogs and on television, blacks and other minorities see the dirty laundry. They see the hypocrisy of publicly rallying in the name of unity but then privately living in segregated pockets. And then there is the history.

The 40th anniversary of Stonewall dominated Gay Pride celebrations around the country, and while that is certainly a significant moment that should be recognized, 40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country. There are stories some blacks lived through, stories others were told by their parents and stories that never had a chance to be told.

While those who were at Stonewall talk about the fear of being arrested by police, 40 years ago, blacks talked about the fear of dying at the hands of police and not having their bodies found or murder investigated. The 13th Amendment was signed in 1865, and it wasn't until 1948 that President Harry S Truman desegregated the military. That's more than an 80-year gap.

Not to be flip, but Miley Cyrus is older than Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell." That doesn't mean that the safety of gay people should be trivialized or that Obama should not be held accountable for the promises he made on the campaign trail. But to call this month's first-ever White House reception for GLBT leaders "too little too late" is akin to a petulant child throwing a tantrum because he wants to eat his dessert before dinner. This is one of the main reasons why so many blacks bristle at the comparison of the two movements -- everybody wants to sing the blues, nobody wants to live them.

This lack of perspective is only going to alienate a black community that is still very proud of Obama and is hypersensitive about any criticism of him, especially given he's been in office barely six months.

If blacks are less accepting of gays than other racial groups -- and that is certainly debatable -- then the parade of gay people calling Obama a "disappointment" on television is counterproductive in gaining acceptance, to say the least. And the fact that the loudest critics are mostly white doesn't help matters either.

Hearing that race matters in the gay community may not be comforting to hear, but that doesn't make it any less true.


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This probably will not go over well, but here goes:
I am happy that the Black community is proud of President Obama.

You will forgive me, as someone who prosecutes nations for torture, who sees military tribunals as hugely illeagl, who sees indefinite detention on the basis of a nation's inability to try someone due to illegally obtained evidence as a crime, who, as a Lesbian, wants equality enshrined in law, who as a secularist, wants the United States to stand by it's secularist enlightenment roots, for being disappointed in a president who talks like Jesus Christ and acts like Baroness Thatcher.

I read a lot of Irish history. Right now I am reading a book about the Irish Republican Army, and how the Irish were trying to get out from under British rule. They partitioned 6 counties back in the early 1920's, now known as Northern Ireland and it's under British rule. In the 60's, the Irish heard about the black civil rights movement in America. The IRA had been bombing police barracks in Northern Ireland and shooting policemen - it was all they knew how to do at the time. So they heard about Martin Luther King, Jr. and passive resistance. They staged a rally in Northern Ireland, about 1972. They had no intention of becoming violent. But the police and the British army came and massacred them. It was known as Bloody Sunday.

My point is that it seems to me that not only is the GLBT community picking up "hints" from the black community, so did other persecuted groups. In fact, the Irish also learned about passive resistance from Ghandi.

It doesn't seem to me that the GLBT community is usurping anything from the black community - they are just learning from them, as did the other groups. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Annette;
You are reading about the nightmare that we call "The Troubles"

The Nation, what is now the Republic, became independent after a long guerilla war against the British that began with an open uprising on Easter Monday 1916.

Your country's founders died in their beds.

Ours died in Stonebreaker's Yard in Kilmainham Gaol in front of a British firing squad.

Israel conducted their war of independence based upon the tactics of Michael Collins, assasinated himself in the civil war that followed the creation of the Irish Free State.

The movie "Michael Collins" is worth watching.

There was very little Ghandi and a lot of Michael Collins in the fight that led to our independence.

Rowen Stowe | July 20, 2009 6:59 PM

There are black gay pride parades? Where? Do you hold these parades in your closets?

It is the responsibility of black LGBT people, not white LGBT people, to reach out to straight black people. Straight black people might find it harder to hate on and discriminate against gays when that means hating their own sons and daughters. The only thing that is going to change hearts and minds in the black community is more black people coming out, stop living double lives, no more 'down low'. That bar you describe, the Prop House, how many of its patrons go home and pretend to be something they are not in their communities?

I think straight black people "bristle" at this subject because they know, or ought to know, that when they are openly homophobic, they are behaving no differently than the racist white people who supported segregation and opposed civil rights.

It's a lie you are perpetuating that black LGBT are unwelcome at gay events and in gay bars. Next June, come to the Sacramento gay pride parade--looks a lot different from the homo-antebellum you describe.

To be fair, I agree that the saying, "Gay is the new black" is offensive and stupid. What I think people mean when they say that is that LGBT rights is now dominant civil rights issue of our time. It's an insensitive, and dumb, way to make that point, but it's a totally valid point that you don't acknowledge. You're quibbling over the language and ignoring the substance.

There are Black Gay Pride celebrations in just about every major city... (I at least know of NY, DC, Atlanta, Philly, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami...) try a google search instead of making generalizations about black LGBT people. From my experience, there is still a great deal of voluntary segregation of LGBT communities on the lines of race, and your ignorance of the fact that there are Black Gay Prides shows that... your privilege allows you to be ignorant and demand the burden of proof and education from the minority and not even bat an eye.

We're not all closeted and you disregard the racism in the LGBT community at large. Black bodies aren't valued by the larger community and if they are, there is usually an element of fetishism. When black people come out we risk losing the community we were born into and have struggled with against racism, just to be ignored by a racist LGBT community that doesn't think to show we exist! When was the last time you saw a spot from a major LGBT rights org that put a face of color forward? I can understand why some would rather keep their families, churches, and friends that they feel safe in than to risk losing those relationships in a society and LGBT community that doesn't see their value.

It is the responsibility of ALL of us to encourage ALL others to step up in the fight for equality. I agree that it helps when you know your friends and neighbors are LGBT so you can stop seeing them as an abstract evil and start recognizing the real people that inequality hurts. There is a problem with homophobia in the Black community, but there's the same problem with any other racial grouping. If more people came out that may help, but putting the burden of combating that homophobia/transphobia just on Black LGBT people is wrong, especially when white LGBT folks turn around after that (B.S.) Prop 8 CNN poll and say some of the most racist things ever about the people you didn't even TRY to reach out to.

If you want to appropriate the struggle of The Civil Rights Movement to apply to the civil rights struggle of our time (LGBT rights) it would make sense to get your own house in order in regard to racism. This movement is still predominantly seen as white and male and from some of the issues that it seems to focus on, it can be argued that you just want to go back to the power in society that you lost to a degree the second you stepped out of the closet, and once you get that you'll throw the colored, the trans, the poor and the disabled under the bus. I've had to deal with being "less than" in society from the moment I came out of the womb, so it's a little easier for me to be patient with the struggle...


On another note: There are plenty of Black people who are JUST as unhappy about the lack of progress on LGBT issues and the lack of response to prosecuting the previous administration on torture, so the author has no right to make some sweeping generalization like that... I'm just glad he's addressing the issue that these identities do intersect although people seem to forget that...

I can be simultaneously proud and dissapointed in Obama. I'm excited and amazed that he has far surpassed my expectations for US presidents. However, I'm also dissapointed that he's doing many of the exact same things that I've been upset at every previous president for doing.

That said, I also want to say that I'm seriously dissapointed in the way the "gay community" has been handling race, especially in the past 6 months.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 22, 2009 2:59 AM

Could you list those things that upset you?

Robert,

What upset me about the white gay community? Or Obama? Or previous presidents?

Assuming it's the first, here are just a few:

*Having close to zero PoC in political ads in the Oregon DOMA fight of 2004

*Having the opposition reach out to PoC better than the LGBTQ campaign

*Repeating both mistakes in CA prop 8 fight

*Being told that there wasn't enough money for no on 8 ads in Spanish while airtime on the Heroes premere was being paid for

*Finally getting Spanish ads in the last week of the campaign, which weren't developed for a Latino/a audience but just direct translations of an English ad

*Communities with high PoC populations being avoided in the no on 8 canvasing (or so I hear from a campaign worker who wanted to canvas those communities)

*Individuals claiming it was PoC's "fault" that prop 8 passed because PoC voted slightly higher for prop 8 -- that's what happens when you don't canvas or develop ads for a community!

*While some majority white organizations are making inroads in being accountable for racism, there are many many individuals who still repeat some of this stuff clearly motivated by racism.

*Organizations still often "forget" to include PoC concerns, ignore PoC complaints, or think about PoC audiences when they craft statements.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 23, 2009 8:17 AM

Thanks, that is much clearer, and important when expressed.

I'm so incredibly upset that this article was posted here. Why, in the world, would this man be given a voice on this blog? The number of logical fallacies and half-truths presented here make it completely inappropriate for print here, and most certainly not on CNN.

"When Proposition 8 passed in California, white gays were quick to blame the black community despite blacks making up less than 10 percent of total voters and whites being close to 60 percent."

It was not "white gays" that blamed the black community. It was faulty data in exit polls, and biased media coverage which pointed the finger at the black community. And when it was clear that the data was faulty, and the media was wrong to jump on such poor data, the gay community (as a whole), was quick to call for not only an end to this type of racial discussion, but to also instead get down to the important work of figuring out how we went wrong and how we could fix it.

"The 40th anniversary of Stonewall dominated Gay Pride celebrations around the country, and while that is certainly a significant moment that should be recognized, 40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country. There are stories some blacks lived through, stories others were told by their parents and stories that never had a chance to be told."

Granderson completely ignores the fact that VIOLENCE AGAINST GAYS DIDN'T BEGIN AT STONEWALL. This is the most grievous and poorly framed argument in the piece, and makes my blood boil. Need everyone be reminded that persecution of homosexuals was written into the Bible, while slavery of African peoples was minimal, if it existed at all, until the 11th century?

But more to the point, does it really matter WHEN persecution of either of our peoples began? Do we need to go head-to-head on pain and suffering? What difference does it make if our persecution at the hands of bigots began 40 years ago or 3000? It's still suffering either way, and for Granderson to try and "one-up" the LGBT community with slavery is grossly disquieting and frankly just ignorant.

Ditto to the statement "Not to be flip, but Miley Cyrus is older than Bill Clinton's 'don't ask, don't tell.'" Again, discrimination did not begin with "Don't ask, don't tell." Frederick Gotthold Enslin was one of the first discharged for the charge of sodomy, in 1778 (per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Gotthold_Enslin). For Granderson to call us "spoiled children" as we protest Obama's failure to do ANYTHING to stop institutionalized discrimination is simply offensive. I assume that if a black sailor were the one found dead, killed by a homocide in a suspected hate crime (http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/02/gay-sailor-dead/), that Granderson would call his black colleagues whiny children for protesting this type of government sanctioned homophobia? Because that's EXACTLY what it is. When the government says it's okay to discriminate, it gives license to everyone else to do the same.

Granderson needs to stop being an apologist, and recognize that discrimination is discrimination, no matter what the terms. As MLK himself, said, "Just delayed is justice denied."

I am a latino gay man and this is my response to Jordan

“Why, in the world, would this man be given a voice on this blog?”

Because gay organizations have to confront their very real racism within their organizing strategies. Largely white gay organizations seem to not value the minority communities until the time comes when they need them for their own agendas, and even then not so much. When did those ‘white’ communities reach out to poorer communities. . I was at a rally against the cuts in the states AIDS services and funding and I could have counted the white people on my hands.

“It was not "white gays" that blamed the black community. It was faulty data in exit polls, and biased media coverage which pointed the finger at the black community.” -

No your statement is wrong, there were incidents that indicate that ‘white gays’ did blame the black community, for one the Dan Savage article, and an incident in West Hollywood the other night (a neighborhood predominantly white and gay) where white gay males verbally assaulted black people.

READ: “Gay America (which is for the most part synonymous with whiteness) has done little if much at all to reach out to it brown brothers and sisters and the larger black community; in particular within media. Media representation of gay America is mostly if not damn near all reflective of white gay America. And so you are surprised that most non gay black folks still to this day think that being gay is synonymous with being white. They do not see an earnest and varied reflection of themselves within gay media.” http://suckaforlife.com/upodcast/2008/11/08/white-gays-attack/

“Granderson completely ignores the fact that VIOLENCE AGAINST GAYS DIDN'T BEGIN AT STONEWALL.”

But is easier to hide ones ‘gayness’ than ones ‘blackness’. White people, gay or not, for the most part have been able to sit at the front of the bus and drink out of the ‘white’ water fountains. Even today they confront less obstructions in their daily lives, whether its getting a job or even a cab. To think that blacks and other minorities have it easier today is just ignorant and sheltered.

“Need everyone be reminded that persecution of homosexuals was written into the Bible, while slavery of African peoples was minimal, if it existed at all, until the 11th century?” -

Seriously? This is YOUR most grievous and poorly framed argument in YOUR response. We are talking about slavery in America and not in the history of the world. I know plenty of religious people who don’t take the bible literally and are tolerant of others lifestyles.

“But more to the point, does it really matter WHEN persecution of either of our peoples began? Do we need to go head-to-head on pain and suffering? What difference does it make if our persecution at the hands of bigots began 40 years ago or 3000? It's still suffering either way, and for Granderson to try and "one-up" the LGBT community with slavery is grossly disquieting and frankly just ignorant.” -

He is just saying that using the ‘Gay is the new black’ is not the appropriate euphemism to be using for the current struggle of the gay community. Especially when they are doing nothing to reach out or support communities of color. I was at a rally against the cuts in the California budget of AIDS funding to services and prevention, and I could have counted the white people on my hands.

“For Granderson to call us "spoiled children" as we protest Obama's failure to do ANYTHING to stop institutionalized discrimination is simply offensive. I assume that if a black sailor were the one found dead, killed by a homocide in a suspected hate crime (http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/02/gay-sailor-dead/), that Granderson would call his black colleagues whiny children for protesting this type of government sanctioned homophobia? Because that's EXACTLY what it is. When the government says it's okay to discriminate, it gives license to everyone else to do the same.”-

That kid was in the armed forces which has institutionalized racism and homophobia for a long time now whether or not it is sanctioned. The president has no power over young men and their racism and homophobia in the service, and to blame the President for that is just wrong headed.

“Granderson needs to stop being an apologist, and recognize that discrimination is discrimination, no matter what the terms. As MLK himself, said, "Just delayed is justice denied." ”

How offensive is it for you to use an MLK quote in an argument against a black man? Wow you should know you can't do that. - -you need to see the Marlon Riggs film 'Tongues Untied' or even the Linda Goode Bryant & Laura Poitras film "Flag Wars" to get an insight into the interaction of minority communities (gay and not) with the 'White Gays' that you include yourself with. I must say I never met a gay as racist as when I met Hank.

In fairnes, Marco, when the statements laying blame for Prop 8 at the feet of people of colour are made currently, they are not made by white LGBT leaders.

The claims are made by black evangelical ministers with braggadoccio.

Wow, Marco, so you can actually put together a coherent argument without resorting to gross indecency and borderline illegal tactics? I'm shocked.

Largely white gay organizations seem to not value the minority communities until the time comes when they need them for their own agendas, and even then not so much. When did those ‘white’ communities reach out to poorer communities.
Indeed. I don't disagree. But that still doesn't give Granderson license to levy such absurd charges, and I would hope it doesn't give Bilerico the impetus to publish it.

READ: “Gay America (which is for the most part synonymous with whiteness) has done little if much at all to reach out to it brown brothers and sisters and the larger black community; in particular within media. Media representation of gay America is mostly if not damn near all reflective of white gay America. And so you are surprised that most non gay black folks still to this day think that being gay is synonymous with being white. They do not see an earnest and varied reflection of themselves within gay media.” http://suckaforlife.com/upodcast/2008/11/08/white-gays-attack/
That's patently wrong. Media representations of gay America are white, because POC come out less. It's not that there are fewer gay and lesbian POC, it's that they fear their own communities. I don't know the answer to the problem - perhaps white gays are not doing enough to help POC come out. But to argue that media representations of gay people is the fault of white people is misleading at best.

To think that blacks and other minorities have it easier today is just ignorant and sheltered.
I never said they had it easier. I only made the point that gay and lesbian people have been persecuted for ages - not just since Stonewall.

We are talking about slavery in America and not in the history of the world. I know plenty of religious people who don’t take the bible literally and are tolerant of others lifestyles.
What difference does it make whether we're talking about slavery in America or in the history of the world? Bottom line: both gays and blacks have clearly been persecuted for quite a long time. And for Granderson to try and argue that our struggle began at Stonewall is just absurd.

Especially when they are doing nothing to reach out or support communities of color. I was at a rally against the cuts in the California budget of AIDS funding to services and prevention, and I could have counted the white people on my hands.
That's BS. Not to say that either side is doing a perfect job at building bridges, but to act like neither side is doing "nothing" is wrong. Inroads have been made on both sides, especially since Proposition 8 and the explosion of the grassroots movement in CA. But it is the responsibility of BOTH the white AND POC communities to continue building these bridges.

That kid was in the armed forces which has institutionalized racism and homophobia for a long time now whether or not it is sanctioned. The president has no power over young men and their racism and homophobia in the service, and to blame the President for that is just wrong headed.
Clearly, in your efforts to blindly disagree with everything I stated, you missed the point. Try a re-read.

I must say I never met a gay as racist as when I met Hank.
Petty, petty, petty. What a child you are.

Jordan,

I agree with your main concern here, that LGBTQ oppression is being minimized. But Granderson's poor arguments don't make his overall objection irrelevant. And in the process of picking apart his, try to be careful not to toss around some rather poor arguments yourself.

Media representation isn't about representing communities to the percentages given in the census. You don't need millions of out queers of color to include us in the media, (or in campaign ads, or in LGBTQ organization's materials, etc). In any major city, there's enough queers of color that if an organization's agenda supports them, they'll participate, and their pictures can be included in the organization's materials. And if media folks wanted to include queers of color, that could easily be a part of the writing, casting, and so forth. It's not a matter of demographics, it's a matter of will.

While I'm at it, Marco, can I just mention how huge a pet peeve of mine it is when people say that LGBTQ folks can just hide if they want to. Maybe some folks, but there's a related aspect here you're ignoring -- gender expression. Butch women and flaming men are read as queer whether they announce it or not. Sometimes hiding is next to impossible. I know many trans people who invest every ounce of themselves into passing and still get picked out by random assholes on the street (including those with badges) and harassed or threatened. Meanwhile, I know folks who are black who regularly pass as white even when they don't want to. The bottom line is that it's individual, some people can't pass (as white, or straight, or cis), and some people can.

But really, neither of these side points are relevant to the valuable part of Granderson's post -- and neither are Granderson's own arguments minimizing LGBTQ oppression. The meaningful issue is that the white queer community has done a horrible job of being accessible to queers of color. Are straight PoC communities any better? Are PoC saying homophobic things? Those might be other issues to work on, but it's irrelevant to the question of what to do about racism in white queer communities.

beergoggles | July 20, 2009 8:06 PM

Bars such as The Prop House, or Bulldogs in Atlanta, Georgia, exist because a large number of gay blacks -- particularly those who date other blacks, and live in the black community -- do not feel a part of the larger gay movement. There are Gay Pride celebrations, and then there are Black Gay Prides.

Uh huh, and you conveniently forget to mention that the reason there are Black Gay Prides and Bulldogs is because they do not feel like they're part of the black community either. I'm guessing we've all forgotten about hiding the fags at the MMM. The gay and the black communities share more flaws than they would like to admit and it's all fun and games until someone points out their shared hypocrisy.

If you're going to claim that gay racism is as big a problem as black homophobia, show me the poll where 70% of gays support stripping blacks of their rights.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | July 20, 2009 8:54 PM

Thanks Maura. I have seen "Michael Collins" about 4-5 times. I became interested in Irish history about 20 years ago. I knew very little about their history and wanted to learn more. Right now I'm reading the last in a series of 5 books about the War of Independence and on to The Troubles. I read about the GPO and 1916. I read how the British burned down Catholic homes and killed them indiscriminately. Two years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Ireland. My husband and I visited the ancient sites and ended up in Dublin. We had tea at the Shelbourne Hotel and saw the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Last night I did a google search for Bernadette Devlin. I read that a few years ago she was instrumental in GLBT people being allowed to march in the St. Patrick Day Parade in New York City. I am learning as much as I can. If you have any books you can recommend I'd be grateful.

Annette...My Grandmere was at the GPO with the ICA. She was one of the girls sent home, sent out at night to sneak through British lines, by James Connolly on Wednesday night.

Holy shit Maura! That is so cool! How old was your Grandmere at the time? It's one thing to read things in books, but it's another to know of someone who was there! She must have had amazing stories to tell. Where in Ireland do you live now?

I just remembered something. My husband and I were walking in downtown Dublin and I saw a rainbow flag flying from a window above a pub. I wish I had taken a photo. :)

Just how many blacks were thrown out of their families and churches because of their SKIN COLOR? It can be significantly more
painful to have your mother not speak to you, than not to be accepted at a bar!

It is in LA where there is a BLACK PRIDE PARADE...ask them why.

I agree with Mr. Granderson. I empathize with all the points made here, but I am going to work my tail off to get our legislative agenda passed, and hold President Obama to his promise to be our advocate.

For me, none of Ganderson's ideas make sense. It isn't about gay vs black. Both communities have have a bad time. And his knee jerk defense of Obama based on continueing abuse of the black community looks like more of the victim complex.
Obama is a huge dissappointment, but not because he's working on issues more pressing than gay marraige. He backed out of his promise to give us fiscally responsible Clintonomics, and the economy is continueing down the toilet. He's not fighting for single payer, even though the public want it. Maybe he is trying to get our laws well written, and working for an optimal political environment, before moving on our issues. The Clintons jumped in too quick and had to back off.
The bottom line is that the gay community are not mad at Obama because he's black. They're mad because they're emotionally five years old, want everything now regardless of practical conditions, and couldn't work out an effective strategy if they had a hammer lock on the senate, supreme court, and every news station from here to Lubbock.

That "Gay is the new black" slogan has troubled me from the time I first saw it. As a disclaimer, I'll say that it trivializes racism and shouldn't be used. Nevertheless, I can see the meaning behind it: Despite enduring racism in society, legal equality now exists for all races, but GLBT people (regardless of race) still don't have legal equality. In many states and at the federal level, we can still be fired from our jobs, hate crimes can still be treated as normal crimes and our marriages are considered legally equivalent to government book bans. Again, I wouldn't be caught dead with a "Gay is the new black" sign, but it has a bit of a point.

I took issue with this paragraph: If blacks are less accepting of gays than other racial groups -- and that is certainly debatable -- then the parade of gay people calling Obama a "disappointment" on television is counterproductive in gaining acceptance, to say the least. And the fact that the loudest critics are mostly white doesn't help matters either.

It's not debatable, my friend; it's well-established. According to a Gallup poll, for example, attitudes about gays among blacks are comparable to those of conservative Republicans (here's the link: http://www.gallup.com/poll/112807/Blacks-Conservative-Republicans-Some-Moral-Issues.aspx). It also doesn't help that black gay men are more likely to be closeted than their white counterparts, which might preclude there being more loud critics of Obama's foot dragging on gay rights who are black.

I also had an issue with this passage: The 40th anniversary of Stonewall dominated Gay Pride celebrations around the country, and while that is certainly a significant moment that should be recognized, 40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country.

As a poster above already said, violence and discrimination against GLBT people didn't start 40 years ago; in the West, it's been going on for about 1,700 years and has included castration, immolation, torture, electro-shock therapy... As a matter of civility, I would request that you refrain from playing the Four Yorkshiremen game of oppression.

This here is a real problem:

"40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country."

The idea that gay people, including black gay people, didn't experience oppression or discrimination due to being gay before Stonewall is ludicrous. Did the author even read what he said?

I identify with the part of the post where the author states that he doesn't feel a part of the gay community. I feel that same thing even as a white man. I think that self appointed gay leadership, such as HRC, claims to have all of 'our' interests, but it's true that there is mostly token POC representation and there is no working class representation of issues at all.

Anyone using the 'black panic' defence successfully recently?

I'm of two minds on this one. I've never seen this as a contest as to who suffered more oppression, but at the same time, it was never right to say "gay is the new black," thus co-opting (and possibly making light of?) someone else's struggles (not to mention making it sound like the latter struggle is "over").

So while "40 years ago, blacks talked about the fear of dying at the hands of police and not having their bodies found or murder investigated," I think we're forgetting the common principles that no one should have to find themselves in that situation, that that situation is not completely exclusive to one struggle (as someone who lived on the street in Vancouver while women were diappearing, I'm acutely aware that 40 years from now there will still be people who have that fear), and hopefully society has learned a thing or two from its mistakes and does not have to repeat all of them.

The GLBT struggle is not the African-American struggle, certainly they're different in many aspects. But they are both civil rights struggles, and if we can get past the co-opting and comparing, maybe we can start seeing them that way.

Chitown Kev | July 21, 2009 12:28 AM

uh, bingo, beergoggles. And the black community does not like it's dirty laundry aired in public.

Besides, I don't know why white gay people get so offended when the race card gets played on them. I black and gay and if I am not talking about white gay racism (or racism, period) then the race card gets played on me everytime. Happened on this very blog to me and I've never forgiven it or forgotten.

Of course, I've had the race card played on me by other blacks for reasons other than the fact that I'm gay. Been through it most of my life. So I guess I should be used to it.

TheGayNumbers | July 21, 2009 1:24 AM

Like I have said elsewhere, the main problem with your comment is that you think you speak for black gay people. Who appointed you our leader? Did you take any polls to actually see what we feel? Will you be telling me what I want to eat for dinner tomorrow too? Speak for yourself. Not an entire group of people. The fact that white people coming here think you can speak for all black people is also offensive. He does not speak for all. He speaks for himself.

Isa Kocher | July 21, 2009 2:25 AM

racism is racism.

any racism is hate speech.

blacks who hate white queers are every bit as hate filled as any other racist.

queers who hate blacks are every bit as hate filled as any other racist.

pitting black people against gay people is cruel. it is hateful. it is racist.

Plenty of white people died for black people's right to live. ANC and NAAACP were founded by people. not by white people, not by black people but people. WHAT color was Gandhi Jesus or for that matter Malcolm.

If you hate white queers just because they are white, your eye are blinded and your soul clouded by the same hate which crucified Matthew Sheppherd, shot down Malcolm and tortured to death or executed or lynched people of every color to keep apartheid in place in the USA.

martyrs to civil rights in the USA are every color and every orientation and every religion: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_n4_v45/ai_8325347/

Racial bating and racist hate will never cure racist hate

A. J. Lopp | July 21, 2009 2:29 AM

There are so many facets of this issue that I can only comment on the biggest points. Like other commenters, I find myself strongly on one side, then strongly on the other.

"Gay is not the new black"

Although GLBT is a prominent civil rights movement today, I hesitate to call it primary or premiere. When one out of every 15 black men are incarcerated, when most economically depressed urban areas in America have mostly black residents, when crack cocaine is prosecuted more harshly than powder cocaine, I think it is pre-mature to say that black equality has been achieved in America. As important as our movement is, I would still say that the civil rights and economic disadvantage of POC (in recent decades we must include Latinos) continues to be one of the most, if not the most, glaring injustice in America.

Spewing a slogan that equates race with sexual orientation is demographically inaccurate, and culturally is begging for trouble. I hate this slogan; it is divisive and destructive, and largely is touted by queers who like to highlight their victimhood. (More about victimhood later.)

And a good number of them are tired of hearing how the gay community is disappointed in President Obama, because they are not.

Early in Obama's campaign there was a lot of worry about whether Obama was "black enough" to relate to the mainstream of American blacks. Obama surely is not a product of the black mainstream in America; how many AA's have a white mother, grow up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and have degrees from Columbia and Harvard? Apparently, blacks decided he was "black enough" and whites decided he was white enough to relate to us effectively. Now elected, Obama is the trophy man of black America and all those misgivings are forgotten.

But Obama is not the president of black America, he is the president of all of us, black and white and every other race. If the man (or woman) in the Oval Office doesn't perform as he (or she) promised during their campaign, then citizens have reason to voice their criticisms. That is the way our democracy works. Few if any are claiming that our unhappiness with his actions is related to his race. So if certain segments are unhappy with our disgruntlement, I say this: This is not basketball. It is not the Oscars, or the Grammies. This is politics. This is government. The man at the top is going to take a lot of heat, no matter what color his skin is, and if you regard him as your personal poster hero and you still want him at the top, you better get used to other people putting the heat on him. In other words, grow up and view the real world for what it is.

There are black gay pride parades? Where? Do you hold these parades in your closets?

The Black Gay Pride event is coming up in Indianapolis on August 8, at Oscar Charleston Park at 30th and Rural, a few blocks east of Keystone. I fully support blacks having their own gay pride events, because the white gay community does an absolutely lousy job at making or letting blacks feel welcome.

By the way, as far as most parties thrown by white gay men are concerned, we also don't like fats, fems, druggies, HIV+ people, unemployed, white trash who live in deteriorating mobile trailers, men who can't get hard-ons, or people who don't know how to dance or dress well --- so, black folks, go figure out how seriously you ought to take us. It's no wonder why black gay men prefer their own bars.

40 years is nothing compared with the 400 blood-soaked years black people have been through in this country.

Oppression of gay people can be documented to go back 850 years, to at least 1173 when the Council of Lateran II officially declared that the Church should punish homosexual acts. (Very European of me to use this mile marker, isn't it?)

But again, this is not a contest about who is the bigger victim --- so let's quit playing this game, and acknowledge that both blacks and gays deserve their full civil right and social equality, period, and that we have to work for both.

Secondly, playing the victim card will only get you so far. This is true for blacks, and it is true for gays. Playing victim and functioning in an empowered manner do not go together, no matter who you are.

Finally, I want to say that the level of disagreement on this topic is evidence enough that the need to talk about this is enormous, and no progress gets made if only whites talk to whites and blacks talk to blacks.

If you're a white gay male, I suggest you go get your next haircut at a black barber shop. (Like gay bars, barber shops also often tend to be black-ish or white-ish.) Being white, I am sometimes asked, "How did you happen to decide to come here?" which of course is a polite form of, "What the Hell are you doing here?" On the other hand, I usually get a good haircut, and I've never had my business or my money refused.

And do remember to tip well.

Andrew Conte | July 21, 2009 7:11 AM

To quote Rodney King...."Why can't we all get along?" Gay, black, latino, women, Muslim etc. We are playing into the hands of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant straight male hand. Together we stand, divided we fall.

The organization of family, sexuality and gender will differ depending on the demographic of peoples you look at, whether it is based on race (e.g. white, black, Latino/a), ethnic identity or class. This is also true for time and place. A white man living in rural America circa 1960 is going to have a different view than a white man living in New York in 1990.

That being said, I think Granderson is making a honest effort to address the issue of how family, sexuality and gender are negotiated much differently in black urban communities than they are in the predominately white, suburban and/or urban ones, often relegated by upper/middle class individuals who perceive their sexual and family organization much more 'in line' with the straight, white community. This realization and reevaluation of queer activists' goals needs to be seriously considered. In order for this to be possible, analogies of all kinds need to be dropped and replaced by serious analysis.

However, dropping criticism of any administration (which Granderson himself does) should not take precedence simply because a demographic, which does not necessarily recognize itself as queer, is unlikely to criticize.

What I hope we can all take away from this piece is how we criticize government actions, and evaluate are goals. The complex meaning of what issues likes marriage, enlistment, job security, health care access and personal safety means in the everyday lives of different queer-identified groups will lead to a more unified, collective effort.

In the meantime, let’s try to learn from the past rather than look to it for the answers.

A Dionne Stallworth | July 21, 2009 9:48 AM

I have often been suspect of people who are so quick to draw upon this comparison - probably for the same reason that this writer has; however, my Blackness has been as easily used to negate me as my transgender status. There were many people of color at Stonewall who lived with the fear and thought of not only getting arrested but, in fact being killed at the hands of police - Miss Major and Sylvia Rivera to name only two.

It is so bizzare to me that any marginialized group of people could do the same to another - knowing fully what that means and how that feels. So many speak of a post-racial era today. I wonder where it is. I see people who ask me to be a part of the greater queer community ask me cheer as they go for the right to marry and I don't have the right to exist or the same protections under the law which they enjoy. I see these same people tell me my being Black doesn't matter. I see these people tell me I matter as a transwoman, while my presence is denied in womens' space. I am less than, not only that but less than twice.

We, in queer space, have so much time spent "in Egypt" (in denial) I wonder if we will make any genuine effort to work to reconcile these differences and gain the sense of unity that we have professed to straight America and ourselves that we have.

"Times running out, let's roll." - Neil Young

You don't speak for all people (of color). You are extremely divisive.

Marco, I am also a gay latino, and I have some comments for you in response to your post.

1) I agree with why they gave the author a voice both here and on CNN

2) I agree that there were some white gays that indeed blamed the black community

3) I have a real problem with your argument "But is easier to hide ones ‘gayness’ than ones ‘blackness’."

First, nobody should have to hide who they are at all. Additionally, the fact that gays are a "hidden" minority can make it more difficult to deal with gay issues in society, especially when you add the fact that there's obviously a biological aspect to race, whereas there are problems with innateness/choice that arise with issues with homosexuality within society.

4) "We are talking about slavery in America and not in the history of the world."

I think the point that Jordan was trying to convey was that gays have struggled against persecution for millenia, not just centuries as the author seems to imply. More importantly, Jordan says that it shouldn't matter how long people have struggled, it's still a struggle and you shouldn't compare them to begin with.

5) "The president has no power over young men and their racism and homophobia in the service, and to blame the President for that is just wrong headed."

The president has the power to stop the institutionalization of homophobia in the service. That is the point. I here agree with Jordan - "When the government says it's okay to discriminate, it gives license to everyone else to do the same."

6) "How offensive is it for you to use an MLK quote in an argument against a black man?"

How is it offensive to quote anyone to anyone else, especially civil rights leader in the context of the discussion?

I am really tired of the "We Suffered Worse" Sweepstakes. Appreciating 400 years of black oppression in no way means that gays don't have the right to expect Obama to fulfill his camapaign promises, or that they are "infantile," as another writer suggests. Double talk is double talk, and weaseling is weaseling, whether the president who does it is white or black. Having voted overwhelmingly for Obama, gays, and anyone else who did so, have a right to hold him to account. Also, while white racism is an undeniable problem, many blacks prefer black bars because they feel better and more relaxed in them, not because they are not welcome in others. For many blacks, socializing with whites is simply outside their comfort zone. There may be all sorts of valid reasons for this, but there you have it. I have taught for 25 years in a school whose faculty is 75% black, and a good portion of the black faculty has always self-segregated. One can explain it and explain it, but it's just a fact.

I am really tired of the "We Suffered Worse" Sweepstakes. Appreciating 400 years of black oppression in no way means that gays don't have the right to expect Obama to fulfill his camapaign promises, or that they are "infantile," as another writer suggests. Double talk is double talk, and weaseling is weaseling, whether the president who does it is white or black. Having voted overwhelmingly for Obama, gays, and anyone else who did so, have a right to hold him to account. Also, while white racism is an undeniable problem, many blacks prefer black bars because they feel better and more relaxed in them, not because they are not welcome in others. For many blacks, socializing with whites is simply outside their comfort zone. There may be all sorts of valid reasons for this, but there you have it. I have taught for 25 years in a school whose faculty is 75% black, and a good portion of the black faculty has always self-segregated. One can explain it and explain it, but it's just a fact.

A. J. Lopp | July 21, 2009 5:58 PM

Eli: I agree with you ... but it is exactly this self-segregation that both races need to work against ... consciously and awkwardly, if necessary ... before we will have a better understanding of each other. I'm not saying every conversation and meeting space has to be integrated, but if a modern American doesn't have the social development to interact with the opposite race, then you have something inside yourself to work on.

Such skills are one of the benefits of school integration (or at least, might be) but here you point out (truthfully, I easily believe) that even the teachers do it. So what socialization patterns can we expect the kids to pick up?

I think the uber-defensiveness of many of the comments on this thread proves why Granderson wrote what he did.

There are many people in the LGBT community who just don't want to hear about it when it comes to racism, so they put the blinders up or sometimes just shout back. If Granderson was really wrong and had nothing to add or wasn't really providing an insight, I'd imagine the comments on this thread would look more like Maura's or Kevin's. But they don't. There's a lot of knee-jerk going on.

It reminds me of many of the liberal white women and some men who, during the Clinton/Obama primary, somehow forgot that Jim Crow happened and were all too willing to go into "Women are worse off than black people." If that wasn't bad enough, discussing the issue with them would turn it all into "How dare you, I'm a solid liberal!" and "I don't see color, I just see an unqualified man getting ahead!" and "Black women who disagree with me are traitors to the cause!"

Race challenges our identities as leftists/progressives in ways that other issues don't, mainly because we divide ourselves so deeply along lines of race. And there's nothing abstract about it, so it easily gets personal. And it really gets to the very definition of who we are, how we operate, and what limits we have to the kind of work we're willing to do.

I would hope that people would try to let some of their defenses down a bit to discuss race in the LGBT community, because even if someone doesn't agree with us 100% on the facts, there's still something to be learned.

Alex,
you sound like a predictable foolish commercial. Don't speak of some experience you obviously never had. Grandersons words are nothing short of hate speech and deserve no allowance.

blackgayetc | July 25, 2009 6:44 PM

Do you how annoying this is?

Many of the commenters who are "defensive" like Chitown, Gay Numbers, Ewe are black and some others have stated that they are people of color. The article might have had a nice bassline idea (Gay is not the new black, Racism in the gay community) but came off as entirely ignorant by belittling gay experiences and playing Oppression Olympics.

For you to defend their reasonable disdain for this article with race baiting is very ignorant and narrow minded. It sounds like you care more about pushing your agenda in this post then doing anything helpful to open dialogue about race in the gay community or even better, getting what black gay activist (who would reasonably be offended by this article as well) might think about this.

For the record I'm a black gay person. Just in case I get accused of being white for disagreeing with you.

You think Kevin's defensive? I wouldn't say he is. In fact, that's why I said, "I'd imagine the comments on this thread would look more like Maura's or Kevin's. But they don't."

I'm not going to pretend, nor have I, that I know what it's like to be black and gay. One thing that I do know, and have a fairly thorough understanding of, is how white people behave, and I was limiting my comments to that.

Dear Maude this whole thing is a mess-- the article and the responses. People talking past each other about who is more oppressed never got anyone anywhere.

I don't know what else I could even begin to say... there is so much racism and homophobia packed into one little thread... this is really, really disappointing.

"All I can say is this… gays are not the new blacks… gays just aspire to, one day, have the same rights and privileges as blacks."

There it is. And let's not forget a few things. How often is the "black panic defense use"? Is a black person murdered every 3 days the way trans people are? Is 70% of the gay community against black people having their rights? How many gays are getting into institutions and influencing laws against blacks? How many gay politicains do stuff like this to blacks: http://queersunited.blogspot.com/2009/07/arkansas-politician-doesnt-want.html

How many people in America would vote for a black president (we have our answer). Only 13% would vote for a gay person for president.

I'm not saying there aren't still racial problems in the country at large (of course there are!) and that the gay leadership doesn't need to do more to reach out to gay POC's, the disabled, bisexuals, and transgenders. But the statistics prove that homophobia is much higher in the black community than racism in the GLBT community. I think perhaps certain people in the black community just don't want to admit that too many in their community are just as capable of bigotry and seem to have learned nothing from the civil rights struggle. Let me ask you this-the next time a black person yells "dirty dyke, you need to be taught a lesson" at me when I or a friend come out of a lez bar (which unfortunately, happens a lot where I live, I carry pepper spray b/c of it and I've used it, I hate to say it but 9 out of 10 times it's a black guy, no matter what color the person coming out of the bar is, including black), if were to stoop to his level and say the "n word" (which I hope I will never do)-who would be considered the bigot? We both should be considered as engaging in stereotypical behavior that is wrong. Yet let's be honest-most people would label me the racist and say NOTHING about him, even though he started it. What does that say? What happened recently to professor Gates was awful, but he's out, he's got attention, and he's going to make sure those cops are punished, as they should be. But if he were gay/bi? He'd probably still be in jail. A gay or bi woman-possibly raped. A trans person-don't ask.

Believe me, certain straight POC have no problem using hetero privlege when it suits them. But it seems that saying that is now racist.

White folks are showing their ass all over this post.

Black folks are showing their ass all over this post.
Asian folks are showing their ass all over this post.
Indian folks are showing their ass all over this post.
Middle Eastern folks are showing their ass all over this post.

J is showing his brain all over this post.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 23, 2009 8:37 AM

LZ, Thought provoking post, but I have an observation for you. Despite the abuse and horror of the institution of slavery (and I am grateful to have no ancestors or relations who participated other than my African American relatives) when president Obama was being interviewed in Ghana by Andy Cooper, I kept waiting for him to ask an important question:

"How did all those slaves get to this point?"

Are we supposed to believe they just walked up and asked to be sold into bondage?

The answer is that they were captured by other Black Africans and brought there to be sold. These tribes used slavery as a form of "ethnic cleansing" of their own upon those who were more vulnerable. Look at Darfur to see a recent similar activity, but with no where to export their conquered people to they killed them instead.

And yet, each year, so many Americans come to this "White Castle" from which so many left Africa to go into bondage in the new world from bondage in Africa. They were already slaves in Africa so I hope Americans of all stripes leave themselves free of this old baggage and concentrate on the disparity of high school graduation rates among races rather than spend their money on an exit point from one type of slavery to another.

Think of what they could have done in their communities with that money, but instead they stood on a meaningless, but historically interesting pile of rocks.

By the way, I agree with you. Gays are not the new Blacks, we have not yet learned enough.